Field Music/Laki Mera/Bwani Junction
HMV Picturehouse, Edinburgh, February 6.
Flying under the banner of HMV’s Next Big Thing, the night was to have featured a fourth act in The Dykeenies (who I did see about five years ago), but it transpires they have now split up. Pity.
The first band to get proceedings off to a flying start are local boys Bwani Junction. I’ve been hearing more and more good things about them for a while, and really enjoyed their debut album Fully Cocked, which was released towards the end of last year. I’m not going to make excuses about not having featured them here before – but I will be featuring them a lot more round these parts.
Bwani Junction have been compared to Vampire Weekend, and whilst there’s an element of that in there, the sense is that these boys have been listening not just to Graceland but to much of the music that comes out of Southern Africa. I once commented that the Bhundu Boys’ ‘Foolish Heart’ sounded like what Shoegazing would have done if it had originated in Zimbabwe and not the Home Counties of England. And watching these boys tonight I’m reminded of that again. They’ve been working on new stuff since the album came out – but they also treat us album tracks like ‘She Ain’t Saying No’ ‘Today’s Crusades’ and ‘She Ain’t Saying No’ and ‘Two Bridges.’ They are unbelievably young (the bass player, Fergus Robson, looks like he might have to go and finish his homework after the gig), but don’t let that put you off. If they can’t headline the HMV Picturehouse within a year, then it ain’t anything they’ve done wrong.
I enjoyed Laki Mera’s album The Proximity Effect last year, and Mogwai’s remix of their track ‘Crater’. They are a rather different proposition to Bwani Junction. Lead singer Laura donnelly has a voice to match Kate Bush, and a stage presence that evokes both Bjork and Florence Welch. The band scarcely engage the audience at all, though the atmospheric electronica works well.
Tonight’s headliners Field Music are now less than a week from releasing their new, fourth album, Plumb. They seem amused to be playing under THe Next Big Thing banner, pointing out that they have been around for a long time (in the absence of The Dykeenies set, I was talking to Bart Owl and Malcolm Benzie from 17 Seconds faves eagleowl, who supported them in Newcastle back in 2005).
The set is made up of old numbers like ‘Let’s Write A Book’ and songs from Plumb, like single ‘A New Town’which are well received. They’ve previously played at the much smaller Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh, and seem somewhat overwhelmed to be playing a venue this big. Not that this comes across in the act. I haven’t seen them before – but like with Bwani Junction, I will definitely be coming back. On record they are a quirky delight, like they retain their quirkiness, but also manage to sound gorgeously symphonic at the same time. No mean feat. the Brewis Brothers are continuing to plow their own furrow, and plow it well…